Colleyville man sentenced to more than 17 years for Ponzi scheme

A Colleyville man who fled to Greece to avoid sentencing was back in court and ordered to spend more than 17 years in prison for running a Ponzi scheme that cost investors more than $8 million.

U.S. District Judge Terry Means sentenced Christopher Blackwell, 34, on Wednesday to 210 months in federal prison and to pay about $8.6 million in restitution.

The sentence came after almost three years after Blackwell pleaded guilty to running the scheme, which defrauded dozens of investors. He entered the plea in July 2011 and then fled.

Agents with Homeland Security, the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, Interpol and Greek authorities tracked Blackwell to the island of Corfu in western Greece and arrested him in April. Authorities brought him back to Fort Worth in November.

Blackwell operated the Ponzi scheme from January 2007 until mid-June 2011, when he was arrested in Phoenix on federal charges.

According to federal court documents, Blackwell told potential investors that their money would be invested in specific business ventures, but he kept it for personal uses. He occasionally made small payments to investors, but not to all of them.

Blackwell had recruited investors from all over the country, federal agents said in court documents.